California courts have the power to make your spouse pay for your attorneys’ fees. Family Code section 2010(f).
This article is not designed to be comprehensive on the question of attorneys’ fees in family law cases. This article is designed to emphasize that even if you do not have the money to hire an attorney you do not have to go through a divorce without legal help. The reason is that California public policy is to create parity in legal representation.
Pursuant to Family Code sections 2030 and 2032, the court is empowered to order the payment of fees and costs as between the parties, based on their “relative circumstances” (i.e., respective incomes and needs and abilities to pay) in order to ensure a parity of legal representation in the action.
The key is that if your spouse makes significantly more money than you then you do not have to wait until the end of divorce to be reimbursed for attorneys’ fees. Instead, you can petition the court to obtain attorneys fees at the very first hearing. You can even act as your own attorney and ask the court to order the more financially-able spouse to pay you a “reasonable amount” to allow you to “retain an attorney in a timely manner before the proceedings may go forward.” Family Code Section 2030 Section (a) (2)